Pakistan’s lonely elephant Kaavan* arrived in Cambodia by cargo plane today to start a new life with fellow pachyderms at a local sanctuary, the culmination of years of campaigning for his transfer by American singer Cher…The singer has been with a film crew documenting Kaavan’s story; she said she was proud to be part of an effort to free an elephant she said had been shackled to a shed for 17 years.
Animal rescue organization Four Paws said Kaavan had another 90-minute drive ahead and would likely arrive at the sanctuary after nightfall, so he would be released in daylight on Tuesday.
“Kaavan was eating, was not stressed, he was even a little bit sleeping, standing leaning at the crate wall. He behaves like a Frequent Flyer…The flight was uneventful, which is all you can ask for when you transfer an elephant.” -Dr. Amir Khalil, a Four Paws vet
Dozens of wildlife workers and experts led by Four Paws used a winch and rope to pull the sedated elephant into the crate before he was loaded onto the Russian-built cargo plane.
Kaavan’s handlers took more than 200 kg (441 lbs) of food including bananas and melons to keep him busy on his journey.
*Kaavan has languished in the zoo for 35 years, most of those years in chains, and lost his partner in 2012. She died after an infection turned gangrenous and her body lay beside Kaavan for several days before being removed. Kaavan was heartbroken after his partner died. Activists dubbed Kaavan the “world’s loneliest elephant” after his plight gained international attention and the unhappy elephant was diagnosed as emotionally as well as physically damaged.
Read more about Kaavan’s history and Cher’s role in the rescue HERE.